A return visit to Penllergare Valley Woods hydropower scheme

On our recent trip to the London we decided to bring the car and take the ferry to Fishguard to visit some of the hydropower sites we have worked on over the last year. Our first port of call was a visit to Penllergare Valley Woods, a picturesque landscape hidden away in a steep valley just a stone’s throw, yet a world away, from the M4 in north Swansea.

The Archimedean Screw along side the man made waterfall

The Archimedean Screw along side the man made waterfall

As part of the upgrade and restoration of Penllergare Valley Woods a 30kW Archimedean Screw Hydro Turbine was installed to ensure a sustainable future for Penllergare Valley. A little over a year ago the hydropower scheme was commissioned and is now generating clean green electricity to power the new visitor centre with excess being sold back to the national grid. The Archimedean Screw with a length of 11m and a capacity of 2880 m3/h is situated next to the waterfall. The enclosed compact design was the preferred design of screw for this particular site as the design minimised the installation cost and doesn’t intrude on the existing landscape.

30kW Archimedean Screw

30kW Archimedean Screw

With its lakes and waterfalls, terraces, panoramic views, exotic trees and shrubs, this forgotten Victorian paradise is being slowly restored and brought back to life by the Penllergare Trust. Penllergare Valley Woods was once a famous gentry estate and home to John Dillwyn Llewelyn, the notable 19-century horticulturalist, philanthropist and pioneering photographer. It is Llewelyn’s design, vision and influence behind the picturesque and romantic landscapes of the park.

A return visit to Penllergare Valley Woods Hydropower schemePenllergare Valley Woods is a place where you can enjoy the sound of birds, delight in the profusion of wild flowers, discover evidence of exotic plantings and uncover for yourself the hidden features of a grand design. Wildlife research carried out by Swansea Council has found the estate is very significant for amphibians and acts as a “corridor” for animals to thrive and move about.

One of the many ancient Rhododendrons in full bloom

One of the many ancient Rhododendrons in full bloom

Through hard work, persistence and community spirit by local volunteers and with the financial support of sponsors and the Friends of Penllergare membership scheme, they have been working hard over the last decade or so to maintain and to restore the Penllergare landscape to the romantic style shown in the photographs of John Dillwyn Llewelyn who created it. The rhododendrons, the legacy of the ‘plant hunting’ Dillwyn Llewlyn family in the 19th centurywere a popular sight along every walk way.
Beautiful woodland walk

Beautiful woodland walk

It was obvious throughout our visit that volunteers had been working hard replanting specimen trees and ornamental shrubberies which had been lost from the existing landscape. They have also been thinning and managing areas of dense trees and shrub to reopen historic views.
A return visit to Penllergare Valley Woods hydropower scheme
Visitors can enjoy over 12km of walks including along the Carriage Drive to the now demolished former home of the Dillwyn Llewelyn family, and also down into the gorge where the family created the upper lake with a stunning man made waterfall. Paths and tracks lead on down alongside the afon Llan as it meanders its way to Fforest fach.
A return visit to Penllergare Valley Woods Hydropower scheme
A return visit to Penllergare Valley Woods Hydropower schemeThroughout the last few years the upper lake has been de-silted, and steps, terraces, the stone-arched Llewelyn bridge, waterfalls and cascades have been repaired and restored to reinstate the picturesque and romantic design.
Some of the many ancient trees

Some of the many ancient trees

A return visit to Penllergare Valley Woods hydropower schemeUsing photographic evidence from the 19th century, the old stone bridge was recreated in the traditional style by local stonemasons.

The original stone bridge

The recreated stone bridge

After walking for hours and checking out the Archimedean Screw we spent some time browsing through the information books and leaflets in the visitor centre and then enjoyed a cup of coffee at the small cafe which has stunning views from the cafe terrace to the upper lake. If you’re ever in the area it is well worth a visit. Dogs are also welcome 🙂 🙂

Mills & Millers of Ireland Summer Event –Saturday 4th July 2015

The Society of Mills and Millers of Ireland was launched in 2001 to encourage and assist in the preservation and appreciation of mills as part of our industrial, architectural and landscape heritage. There are hundreds of mills and mill sites spread across the country and while many are beautifully refurbished or put to good use, there are also many others which could be restored or renovated while preserving their traditional context. The society aims to promote interest and awareness in this aspect of Ireland’s industrial heritage by building up knowledge and expertise in areas such as law, architecture, renewable energy and manufacturing and making information available through publications, lectures and events.

Old Mill Coffee Shop, Upperlands

Old Mill Coffee Shop, Upperlands

The Old Mill Coffee Shop is based in the heart of the Historic Linen Village of Upperlands and opened in March 2013 it is a restored beetling mill bursting with character. The beetling mill is situated beside the coffee shop, this is said to be the only commercial beetling mill in the world!

Beetling Mills Coffee Shop

This year’s Summer event is a one day event taking place on the 04th July in the lovely countryside of County Derry. It’s going to be a very active day with visits to several local mills, a tour of the Beetling Mill in Upperlands and a talk by Mr. Douglas Lamont followed by a visit to the Clark family. After lunch the group will visit Barney and Michael Lagan, Upperlands. Take a look at the timetable to see the list of interesting events that have been organised.

Mills & Millers of Ireland Summer event 2015

Mills & Millers of Ireland Summer event 2015

Fee for the day including refreshments and lunch: €25 per person.

To book:
(A) Download a booking form here and return to: Hon. Treasurer Mr. John Delaney, Ballingard Road, Roscommon, County Roscommon (Cheques payable to MMOI)

or
(B) Pay for the event using the PayPal secure online payment option button. Please select the number of places from the drop down menu.

Telephone enquiries: S. Bourke

Hydropower – the world’s oldest method of harnessing clean power

Greater awareness of the potential damage to the planet from global warming has lead governments and multinational organisations to take measures to mitigate the impacts of human activity on the climate. With little or no CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions and high energy payback, hydropower supports clean development and is recognised as being fully renewable and sustainable.

Hydropower -

Hydropower – the world’s oldest method of harnessing clean power

 Some interesting hydropower  facts:

  • Hydropower is the world’s leading renewable energy resource and the oldest method of harnessing clean power – the first waterwheels were used over 2,000 years ago
  • It currently produces around 17% of the world’s electricity and 90% of the world’s renewable power
  • Twenty-five countries depend on hydropower  for 90% of their electricity
  • Less than one third of the world’s practical hydro capacity has been developed
  • Hydropower beats all other electricity generating technologies with a pay-back ratio of 300 (energy produced/energy to produce) – this is ten times more than oil-fired power stations.
  • There are no direct CO 2 emissions from hydro projects.
Hydropower -

The first waterwheels were used over 2,000 years ago

  • Small hydro schemes have minimum visual impact on their surrounding environment.
  • Hydropower, after 150 years as an electricity generating source, is still one of the most inexpensive ways to generate power
  • Most large hydro stations have dams but thousands of small hydro stations don’t – they are ‘run-of-river’ schemes and make a minimal impact on the environment
  • Hydro is the only renewable technology that can be used to store large quantities of energy in a clean environmentally-friendly way. This is done by reservoir storage and pumped storage schemes.
  • Hydro installations can have a useful life of over 100 years – many such plants are in existence worldwide
  • A modern hydro turbine generator can convert over 90% of the energy in the available water into electricity. This is more efficient than any other form of generation.
Shane's Castle Archimedes Screw Installation - largest single screw ever to be manufactured

Shane’s Castle Archimedes Screw Installation NI- largest single screw ever to be manufactured

Hydropower is a flexible technology, proven, improved and refined over many years, yet its site-specific features make it highly innovatory in application, which makes use of a wide range of available resource – large or small, storage or run-of-river, and including tidal range, canals and even water treatment works. It is still one of the most inexpensive ways to generate power, playing an important role in our electricity system stability.

If you are the owner of an old mill site or a potential hydro site, would like to refurbish or replace a water wheel or a community group interested in developing a hydro project for community use we can help. Just contact us here and we will answer all queries and help you every step of the way with your proposed project.

 

 

 

Why Mini or Micro scale Hydro?

Small-scale hydro is one of the most long term cost-effective and reliable energy technologies to be considered for providing clean electricity generation. Hydropower is the nation’s most available, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy source requiring only the power of moving water from rivers and streams.
Weir on the river Camowen, Omagh

Weir on the river Camowen, Omagh

Small scale hydropower systems capture the energy in flowing water and converts it to usable energy. Although the potential for small hydro-electric systems depends on the availablity of suitable water flow, where the resource exists it can provide cheap clean reliable electricity. A well designed small hydropower system can blend with its surroundings and have minimal negative environmental impacts.
 Benefits of small scale hydropower:
  • A high conversion efficiency (70 – 90%), by far the best of all energy technologies.
  • A high capacity factor (typically >50%), compared with <10% for solar and around 30% for wind.
  • A high level of predictability, varying with annual rainfall patterns.
  • Slow rate of change; the output power varies only gradually from day to day (not from minute to minute).
  • A good correlation with demand i.e. output is maximum in Winter.
  • Hydro produces a continuous supply of electrical energy in comparison to other small-scale renewable technologies. 24 hour generation i.e. works at night.
  • It is a long-lasting and robust technology; systems can readily be engineered to last for 50 years or more.
  • Well-designed schemes are also environmentally benign. Small hydro is in most cases “run-of-river”;  in other words any impoundment is quite small, often an existing weir, and little or no water stored.
  • Small hydro schemes have minimum visual impact on their surrounding environment
  • A climate-friendly energy source with  no direct CO 2 emissions from hydro projects.
Therefore run-of-river installations do not have the same kinds of adverse effect on the local environment as large-scale hydro, which involves a substantial dam and a more fundamental alteration to the downstream flow pattern.

Why micro and small scale hydro?

Why micro and small scale hydro?

Hydropower is a flexible technology, proven, improved and refined over many years, yet its site-specific features make it highly innovatory in application, which makes use of a wide range of available resources – micro, small or large, storage or run-of-river, and  including tidal, canals and even water treatment works. It is still one of the most inexpensive ways to generate power, playing an important role in our electricity system stability.
If you are the owner of an old mill site or a potential hydro site, would like to refurbish or replace a water wheel or a community group interested in developing a hydro project for community use we can help. Just contact us here and we will answer all queries and help you every step of the way with your proposed project.

A look back at 2014 – the power of water!

The blog has been quite of late so now its time to get back into the swing of things.  And what better way than to look back on some of the most memorable posts of 2014.  While looking back through the posts over the past few days it has stuck  me just how busy we were in the last year!

We have had to spend a huge percentage of the year traveling and working in the UK due to the lack of support mechanisms and action on microgeneration here in Ireland. In December ESBCS withdrew their export tariff scheme to new microgeneration customers which now means there is no financial incentive in this country for microgeneration as ESBCS were the only supplier offering such a tariff. Contrast this to the ROCs system in NI and the REFIT scheme in Britain, both these schemes pay for actual generation not just what is exported, there is a smaller top-up payment for export. On the brighter side we got the opportunity to travel through the most scenic countryside to visit and work on beautiful rivers and old mills.

Working in the great outdoors

Working in the great outdoors

Penllergare Valley Woods.

Almost a year ago to the day we visited Penllergare Valley Woods located on the northern fringe of Swansea. It was once a famous gentry estate and home to John Dillwyn Llewelyn, the notable 19-century horticulturalist, philanthropist and pioneering photographer. The development of the hydropower scheme in Penllergare Valley Woods will generate sufficient power to meet the needs of the sites new visitor centre and excess sold to the National Grid, raising an expected £10,000 per year for the trust. The Archimedean Screw with a length of 11m and a capacity of 2880 m3/h is situated next to the waterfall at Penllergare Valley Woods.

Archimedean Screw with ell pass running along side

Archimedean Screw with ell pass running along side

 Osney Lock.

Osney Lock Hydro was the first community-owned hydro scheme to be built on the Thames. There was extraordinary support shown by local people towards the project. The Osney Lock Hydro share offer raised over £500,000 in just four weeks. Without this swift and significant support the project would not have been able to go ahead. Over 40% of the investment came from within a mile of the project and 4 out of 5 investors live in Oxfordshire.  On Tuesday 25th March at midday the dreams of the local residents came to life when a 4.35m-long, four-bladed Archimedean screw was installed at Osney Lock.

 

Osney lock hydro installation

 Mapledurham Watermill

The watermill is the last working corn and grist watermill on the River Thames and is still producing high-quality stone-ground flour today.  An Archimedean Screw hydro turbine was designed and installed in 2011 to replace the original turbine that had fallen into disrepair.   The 7.27 m Open Compact Archimedean Screw has a capacity of 5,000l/s and a predicted output of 99.95kW. It is estimated that it will save 221 tonnes of CO2 per annum. Over the course of a year, the screw will produce approximately 500,000kWh of renewable electricity which is being bought by Marks and Spencer via the national grid. The electricity generated is sufficient to power one of its stores.

Archimedean Screw

Archimedean Screw

The mill produces stone-ground flour using a waterwheel. Wholemeal and white flour, bran, semolina and Millers Mix, a blended combination bran and semolina, are all produced at the mill.  When the sale of the electricity has covered the cost of the turbine, the profits will go towards renovating the mill and its outbuildings to how it was 200 years ago. The new water wheel is the exact structural copy of the existing water wheel and is made out of oak which was sourced from the Mapledurham Estate.

New water wheel at Mapledurham

 Cragside House

Cragside was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. On the 9th April, a century and a half  after the first hydropower installation at Cragside House a new hydropower turbine arrived onsite. A 21st century, 17m long Archimedean Screw rated at 12kW and weighing several tonnes was craned into position at the southern end of Tumbleton lake and  will produce enough energy to re-light the house just like Lord Armstrong did.

 

17m long Archimedean Screw insitu

17m long Archimedean Screw insitu

Osbaston

The project consists of two 3.6m diameter Archimedes Screw hydropower  turbines. The turbines were designed to rotate at a speed of 28rpm, which produce a maximum power output of 150kW.  The estimated annual power output is 670,000kWh enough electricity to power over 150 homes and gives an estimated annual CO2 saving of 288 tonnes. A small percentage of the power generated is used to power the owners home and the remainder is sold to the National Grid. The fish pass and hydropower scheme was offically opened in 2009.

Wordless Wednesday ~ the power of water!

 Sowton Weir

Sowton Mill stands on the  River Teign in Devon and has been using hydro power for over 400 years, initially to mill corn and then, from the 1950s, to generate electricity.  In the 1980s a 16kW crossflow turbine was installed which was the U.K.s smallest electricity contributor to the National Grid. To improve the power generation and aid fish migration a decision was made to install the fish-friendly Archimedean Screw hydro turbine. Sowton hydropower scheme was developed by a private client to provide a renewable source of electricity to the property on site with all excess power sold to the National Grid.

95kW Archimedean Screw Hydro turbine

95kW Archimedean Screw Hydro turbine

 Tours and Shows

One of the most exciting memories of 2014 was visiting the IFAT show in Munich and continuing on to visit some Archimedes Screw installations in Munich, Czech Republic and The Netherlands. IFAT 2014 is the world´s leading exhibition of innovation solutions for environmental technology. Climate change, rising raw material prices, an increasing number of mega-cities and advancing industrialization in emerging countries  boost the demand for products and services that address environmental and climate challenges. With growing pressures on European countries to reverse years of environmental damage and to find more integrated pollution control techniques, the potential is limitless.

 

Frank at IFAT 2014

Frank at IFAT 2014

There are many more projects both here and in the UK at various stages of build which I hope to blog about throughout 2015. The projects mentioned are a taste of what community groups, home owners and businesses have achieved in their desire to harness the power of the river to generate green electricity. On our trips around Ireland with the Mills and Millers of Ireland we met several mill owners and enthusiasts who, like us are promoting the benefits of hydropower and encourage and assist in the preservation of old mills which are part of our Industrial, architectural landscape heritage.

We will continue to fight for microgeneration incentives because after all every person or household in the country that pays an electricity bill also pays a PSO. So  it is a little unfair that the ordinary man in the street who pays the bulk of this PSO does not benefit from it in the form of any incentive that would help him to install his own microgeneration.